Let me begin by saying that like you, I am very disturbed by the images
from Abu Ghraib. This is a serious issue, and we must act quickly to
First and foremost, a swift and thorough investigation is needed, and
needed now. For those responsible, justice must be swift and strong, as
their conduct directly contradicts and undermines our mission in Iraq.
As to how this investigation is carried out, at this time I am monitoring
the internal military process that is being conducted pursuant to the
Uniform Code of Military Justice. I am hopeful that it will be carried out
in a professional, methodical fashion, and that those who are guilty of
crimes will be punished to the fullest extent of the law. If, however, I
see that this process is biased or flawed, I will not hesitate to invoke my
congressional oversight authority as Chairman of the Committee on
Government Reform. In addition, I am intently watching the hearings that
have been called by my colleague and friend, Senator John Warner, Chairman
of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to see where there was a breakdown
in the chain of command and what we in Congress can do to ensure that it
does not occur again in the future.
From a geopolitical perspective, we must do everything possible to
reassure the world community that all those things we take as self-evident
– the honor of our military, our intentions in Iraq, our respect for human
rights – remain as strong as ever. The vast majority of our troops, who
perform heroically every day, are the best evidence of these tenets.
Finally, please let me close by saying that in the wake of this crisis, we
must also remember that there are 138,000 Americans in uniform who uphold
the highest standards of professionalism every day. They do so in the face
of extreme danger and hardship, and we should not let the egregious acts of
a very small group overshadow the integrity of our soldiers nor deter our
nation from its overall objective of developing a democratic Iraq.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. Should you have any
questions or further concerns, please let me know.